THE 12th North Devon Festival launched on Friday with a stunning line up of celebrity performers, new events, old favourites, art, music, sport and community fun for all ages to enjoy throughout June. The launch was at Barnstaple Rugby Club, alongside the

THE 12th North Devon Festival launched on Friday with a stunning line up of celebrity performers, new events, old favourites, art, music, sport and community fun for all ages to enjoy throughout June.

The launch was at Barnstaple Rugby Club, alongside the finals of the annual schools Tag Rugby Festival, with event organisers, North Devon Festival producers and staff on hand to reveal what the next 30 days has to offer.

With dance, sport, theatre, comedy, visual art, fairs, exhibitions and an awesome array of live music from punk to jazz to classical, there really is something for everyone.

Highlights include The Magic Numbers, Paul Merton, Toots and the Maytals, Shappi Khorsandi, The King Blues, Live Like Lions, Sinfonia Classica, Chris Packham, Jacqui Dankworth, Brian Blessed and one of Alan Bennett's finest plays The History Boys.

North Devon Theatres chief executive Alan Giddings said last year more than 110,000 people took part in the festival and they were expecting similar numbers, with more than 35,000 of those from outside the region.

"We could not do this without the organisations that make it work, the funders, our many sponsors and supporters who all make a big difference and the festival what it is today," he added.

The weeks ahead will see festival mainstays such as Lynton and Lynmouth Music Festival (June 11-13,) Ilfracombe Victorian Celebration (June 12-20) and GoldCoast Oceanfest (June 18-20.)

Barnstaple Fringe features music in pubs and cafes throughout June plus the Fringe Theatrefest weekend (June 24-27) with almost 70 performances.

Celebrities include Brian Blessed at Petroc's The Factory campus in Roundswell on Saturday, plus Richard Digance at The Plough in Torrington on June 18 and Paul Merton's Impro Chums at The Queen's Theatre in Barnstaple on Saturday, June 19. Appledore Visual Arts Festival kicks off tomorrow (Thursday) and runs until Sunday, with art exhibitions, talks, workshops, performances and displays throughout the village.

Alan Bennett's much loved play The History Boys opens at the Queen's Theatre on Monday and runs until Saturday, June 12. And don't miss the big free Bug Fest at the Discovery Centre, Wistlandpound, by the Calvert Trust, this Saturday and Sunday.